As lockdowns start to lift and life begins its slow journey back to normality, a number of countries in Europe are opening their doors to UAE travellers once more. From a spectacular Greek island beach resort to luxury city hotels, these hot new openings should be your first port of call.
Nikki Beach, Montenegro
With stunning bays, pretty, medieval towns and truly spectacular scenery—not to mention fewer crowds than neighbouring Croatia—Montenegro may be this year’s most tempting Europe travel destination. And while an array of luxury new hotels seem to be popping up by the minute, the latest outpost of global luxury lifestyle brand Nikki Beach has certainly caught our attention.
The brand’s fifth resort and beach club property number 13 is just a short 10-minute boat ride from Porto Montenegro. A cooler, lower-key version of the party vibe it became famous for in Miami, the resort has just 45 rooms and suites. Boasting breathtaking views over the Bay of Tivat and Lady of Mercy Island, there are also three dedicated pools and gym plus Nikki Spa where, in collaboration with Clarins, guests can seek restoration among stunning views that immediately soothe the soul.
With touches of the brand’s signature laid-back luxe aesthetic throughout, the beach club and restaurant are just as lavish, with a palm-tree-lined platform flanked with sunbeds, lounge chairs and cabanas, all overlooking the water and mountain range. As for the cuisine, expect inventive dishes including oversized seafood platters, tasty sushi boats, colourful salads and global favourites direct from the resort’s private garden of fruit, vegetables and edible flowers. Slated to open in 2023, the brand is also developing a second project in the area, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Montenegro, so watch this space. Bay of Tivat, Montenegro; book now
Hidden among acres of pine trees, olive groves and terraced vineyards on the fashionable island of Hvar–a place fast becoming known as the ‘Saint Tropez of the east’—Maslina brings an all-new slice of beachside bliss with a mindful touch to the Croatian coast. With luxury wellbeing at its heart, its seafront Pharomatiq Spa takes centre stage, with its tonics, oils and aromas using ingredients picked for the resort’s very own organic garden, including lavender (which Hvar is famous for), thyme, rosemary and sweet wormwood.
Designed to complement the surrounding landscape, its six interconnected pavilions and three seafront villas are crafted from natural materials such as Brac stone, terracotta tones and Iroko wood, with rooms perfectly positioned to enjoy endless azure Adriatic views. The food is equally nourishing for both body and soul, focusing on seasonal and local ingredients in dishes such as pasta aglio olio with shrimp and cherry tomatoes from the garden and gregada fish stew.
The beautiful town and UNESCO World Heritage site Stari Grad is a short 15-minute stroll away, while the Maslina speedboat is always on hand for last-minute trips to hidden coves and private bays. It doesn’t get much better than that. Hvar, Croatia; book now
The peak of high-society soirées since the 16th century, Aman Venice is a much-loved gem on the banks of the Grand Canal. New this year, guests can now stay in Coccina’s Apartment, named after a family of affluent traders and seafarers who moved to Venice from Bergamo in the mid-16th century. Situated on the fourth floor of the Palazzo and accessed by a private elevator, it comprises three ensuite bedrooms, king-sized beds, a private living room and unparalleled views over the serene Grand Canal and the Canal Garden. Walls are also adorned with artwork by several of Europe’s greatest artists including frescoes and reliefs, too. Ideal for large families or groups of friends, it’s an idyllic base for those looking to rediscover the Floating City.
Accessed by a hidden jetty entrance, privacy is key here (just ask George and Amal Clooney who celebrated their nuptials at the hotel), while you’re just a short stroll from the Rialto Bridge and equally close to the San Tomà or San Silvestro traghetto (the ferry) for easy access to St Mark’s Square and the San Marco district. As to be expected from menus overseen by acclaimed chef Davide Oldani—whose D’O restaurant has two Michelin Stars—the cuisine is exceptional and can be as simple or sumptuous as the occasion demands. Bellissimo! Palazzo Papadopoli, Venice, Italy; book now
METT Hotel & Beach Resort, Bodrum
Dubbed the most glamorous beachside town in the Mediterranean, Bodrum’s charm lies in its picturesque crescents, white-washed houses and prime position on Turkey’s turquoise coast. Newly nestled in the private Haremtan Cove you’ll find METT Hotel & Beach Resort Bodrum—the city’s latest five-star opening which sits opposite its quaint old town.
METT Bodrum puts the art of dining and entertainment at the heart of its experience, with an in-house art gallery curated by contemporary artist Laura Margarita, and four delectable restaurants designed to suit every mood. From days spent sipping mocktails at the beachside Folie to pan-Asian bites as the sun sets at Mood Lounge, guests will be spoilt for choice.
While its 72 elegant rooms and suites offer the perfect haven to retreat after a long day of sun baking or a rejuvenating treatment at Moi Spa, upgrade to one of the two, three, four or five-bedroom villas for an extra special treat. The luxe 240sqm four-bedroom Villa Ak Ana even has its own 13-metre infinity pool, large private terrace and winter garden, set high up overlooking the old town of Bodrum and its ancient fort, for a truly unbeatable experience. Bodrum, Turkey; book now
Cayo Resort & Spa, Crete
Exquisite cuisine? Tick. Private pools? Tick. Striking architectural design, unspoiled Spinalonga views and a world-renowned spa? Tick tick tick. Crete’s newest design hotel compromises on neither style or comfort, and promises an exclusive space in the picturesque village of Plaka where guests can escape the crowds and relax on their own private stretch of seafront.
Designed with seclusion in mind, suites and villas come complete with their own private plunge pool and spacious terrace, while there’s easy access to the island’s tapestry of beaches, historic treasures and wealth of adventurous activities, from paddle-boarding to cycling or hiking Crete’s hilltop trails. Foodies can rejoice too, as its four restaurants are headed up by chef Lefteris Lazarou whose restaurant, Varoulko, was the first serving Greek cuisine to ever be awarded a Michelin Star. Meanwhile, the hotel’s environmentally-friendly design saves substantial amounts of electrical energy through a state-of-the-art heat recovery system. Plaka, Crete, Greece; book now
Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, Madrid
If you’re craving a city break with the best Europe has to offer, you can’t beat the Spanish capital for its world-class museums, traditional tapas bars and buzzing nightlife. Building new life into a collection of historic buildings in the heart of the city, the Four Seasons Hotel Madrid is the luxury brand’s first Spanish foray, and opened late last year after seven years of construction work in Madrid’s Plaza de Canalejas.
Featuring 200 rooms and suites (the most spacious in the city), including the palatial Royal Suite with its double-height ceilings and full marble bathroom complete with circular bathtub, guests can expect all the elite bells and whistles the Four Seasons is so famous for, including a four-level spa retreat with sky-lit indoor pool and sun terrace overlooking Madrid’s rooftops. The hotel’s culinary offerings are just as illustrious—make Dani, a new dining concept by the celebrity chef Dani Garcia, your first port of call. A love letter to the city that has always welcomed him, expect a combination of haute cuisine and comfort food including tuna steak carpaccio, sea urchin tortilla, stuffed duck pie and cured beef loin steak tartare with gravy and straw potatoes. Elsewhere, be sure to check out the Dani terrace for drinks—a sophisticated rooftop setup by acclaimed London and New York-based designer Martin Brudnizki—the first-floor gastro bar Isa for contemporary tapas with an Asian twist, and the El Partio lobby bar for laid-back drinks and dining. Calle de Sevilla, Madrid, Spain; book now
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